Many Burmese migrant workers in Thailand are declining to fill in new ID papers, or else are giving false information, because they fear the information might be used against them and their families by the Burmese regime.
The ID forms, due to be handed in by September 29, are the result of an agreement reached between Thailand and Burma in August to provide special visas for Burmese working illegally in Thailand. But the information in the forms will be sent back to Burma-something which few migrants like.
Pranom Somwong, of the Chiang Mai-based Migrant Assistance Program Foundation, said that the Burmese authorities will verify the information. Any migrant workers Burma recognizes as its citizens will be issued a passport to legally work in Thailand.
Sai Norm, a Shan who works at a construction site in Chiang Mai, said: I did not fill the form because I am worried my family back in Shan State could be in danger if the authorities knew my details and home address. She is one of many thousands who left Burma illegally to find work in Thailand. He said many of his friends are also declining to fill in the forms, or else are giving phony information.
Pranom added: Employers are also forcing the workers to fill the forms because they have to send the papers to the [Thai] employment department. She said Burmese workers were afraid because they dont trust the Burmese. It is against the law to leave Burma without the permission. Many migrants are from ethnic minorities not recognized by the Burmese government, she added.
According to official Thai figures, about 600,000 Burmese workers registered as migrant workers in Thailand this year while the actual number is thought to be over 1 million.
Irrawaddy: Khun Sam
Wed 27 Sep 2006